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Labor minister vows to take all measures to promptly end Hyundai Motor's walkout

All News 16:22 September 28, 2016

SEOUL, Sept. 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's labor minister said Wednesday the government will consider every option available to end the walkout at Hyundai Motor Co., the country's largest carmaker, indicating Seoul may issue a strike suspension order.

Labor Minister Lee Ki-kweon denounced Hyundai Motor's labor union for orchestrating the first full strike in 12 years. He claimed such a move neglected the plight of subcontractors and the public who will invariably suffer from the disruption in production.

"If the management and union fail to reach an agreement in the near future, I will make sure the strike ends as soon as possible by taking all measures possible within the boundary of law," he said during a meeting of local companies' personnel managers in Seoul.

Under the existing law, the country's labor minister can call for an emergency adjustment when a labor dispute is related to public services that can endanger the national economy or the daily lives of the general public.

If enacted, concerned parties are required to immediately suspend labor action for the following 30 days. The government, meanwhile, will start the process of mediation and, if this fails to find a middle ground, can be followed by arbitration.

South Korea's government has only used the measure four times in the country's history, including the time on Hyundai Motor's in 1993.

"The union has launched 22 strikes since July 19, costing the firm 2.7 trillion won (US$24.6 billion) from lost production of 121,167 cars," Lee said.

The two sides had reached a tentative agreement on Aug. 24 that would have raised the workers' monthly wages by 58,000 won plus a bonus of 350 percent and 3.3 million won in cash for each worker. The management also withdrew its demand for a wage peak system, which had been one of the most contentious barriers in the talks.

The compromise, however, was rejected by unionists with 78.05 percent of its members voting against it.

An assembly line of Hyundai Motor Co.'s plant in Jeonju, about 240 kilometers south of Seoul, remains idle on Sept. 26, 2016, as unionized workers of South Korea's top automaker started their first full strike in 12 years after rejecting a previously offered compromise on wage hikes. (Yonhap)

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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